Emergencies preparedness, response

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - Multi-country outbreak - Update 43

Situation in China: more cases than the rest of the world combined

30 April 2003

Disease Outbreak Reported

Situation in China
China reported an additional 166 probable SARS cases with 11 deaths, bringing the cumulative total to 3460 cases and 159 deaths. China now accounts for more probable cases than the rest of the world combined.

Beijing reported the highest number of new cases (101) and deaths (9), for a cumulative total of 1440 probable cases and 75 deaths. Of these new cases, 31 were previously reported as suspect cases while 70 were reported for the first time.

Nine hospitals in the Chinese capital now deal exclusively with SARS patients. Just outside Beijing, a 1000-bed complex has been built to accommodate incoming patients. Health authorities have expressed concern that the SARS outbreak could overwhelm Beijing’s already crowded hospitals.

Xiong Ke Chest Hospital will open a new wing with 100 more beds for SARS patients tomorrow, hospital officials told a WHO expert during a visit to the hospital today. With 235 beds all occupied by SARS patients, the hospital already has the largest number of SARS patients in the country.

Dr James Maguire, from the WHO team of experts, said that despite extremely difficult working conditions, hospital staff had risen to the occasion. “Their esprit de corps is excellent. They are taking great pride in what they are doing and working very hard,” he said, adding that some staff work 45 days without seeing their families. The rigorous infection control procedures included heavy and hot protective clothing.

Dr Maguire, an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, said there was a need for more specialized equipment such as masks, gloves, ventilatory equipment, layer protective gear, and ambulances to transport patients between hospitals. WHO staff are aware that other hospitals in the city may need more or better supplies.

The disease continued to make its mark elsewhere in the country. Jiangsu Province, which borders Shanghai, reported its first case today. More cases were reported in western China, with 34 more probable cases from Shanxi and seven more from Inner Mongolia, giving a total of 299 and 127 probable cases respectively. One fifth of the cases (65) in Shanxi Province are among health workers.

Hebei also continued to report more cases, with nine more probable cases, giving a total of 48. Tianjin reported five more probable cases for a total of 49 cases, while Guangdong reported six, for a total of 1405.

Update on countries and cases
As of today, a cumulative total of 5663 probable cases with 372 deaths have been reported from 26 countries. This represents an increase of 211 new cases and 19 deaths when compared with yesterday. The new deaths were reported in China (11), Hong Kong SAR (7), and China, Taiwan (1). This was the first death in Taiwan, where the number of probable SARS cases has more than doubled, from 37 to 78, over the past week. China, Macao SAR reported its first probable case today.